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Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Westside is the Bestside

So it’s been a week since the end of the tour, forgive me for the delay in updates. Also, I will have the winning redesign of this diary posted by Dyan’s birthday, which is this Sunday! Without further ado:

Archis Tiku, bass player for Maximo Park (our tour buddies and one of our favorite bands), is perhaps the most remarkable individual I’ve ever met. On stage he avoids the spotlight, allowing the more flamboyant performers in his group to shine, but after the show he is always the star. It isn’t that he seeks all the attention, it’s more that he radiates an intense, unwavering friendliness that gradually draws everyone in the room to him.

At the bar in the Crocodile Lounge in Seattle, Dyan was standing next to Tiku, who was smoking. A girl approached Tiku and asked him for a cigarette, a request which he happily obliged. After he lit the woman’s smoke, he leaned over to Dyan and said, “I think people always ask me for cigarettes because they see how much I enjoy them, and they want to do it too.” Such is his life: People see how much he enjoys living it that they want to live it with him.

Our lives with Tiku and his band over the past week have been a dizzying array of fireworks (literally), alcohol, and rock ‘n’ roll music. A rundown:

June 28- When we happened into our British buddies from Maximo Park in the Casbah in San Diego at soundcheck, they were all wearing shorts and sunglasses. It was a bit unsettling, seeing the pasty Brits showing so much leg, kind of like walking in on one’s parents having sex. I know they have to do it at some point, but why here? Why now? I suppose it never really rises above sweater weather in the UK, so Southern California is a welcome change for them, but still.

Once they put on their pants—err, trousers—in time for the show, it was great to see them again, though, thankfully, a little less of them. The band obviously picked up some new tricks at Glastonbury, they were intense. Looking forward to the rest of the tour…

June 29- The hometown show at the Troubadour went as could be expected, in that it totally kicked ass. (Can you tell I’ve just learned how to use italics?) Nathaniel attacked Zachary’s drum kit so viciously at the end of the set that the bass hoop actually snapped into three pieces. Zachary’s mother, who attends just about every TBA gig she can, is usually up in arms after Nathaniel’s assaults her son and his kit, but she seemed not to notice this time. “Amazing show,” she sighed. “Amazing show.”

Many spirits and lagers later, we wound up at someone’s Echo Park home with the MP boys. The house was home to two French bulldogs, which even under the most sober of circumstances resemble Gizmo from the hit movie Gremlins. When as far under the influence as we were, the dogs were Gizmo from Gremlins. It was rather terrifying, witnessing Zebastian chase them around for hours and hours. “Don’t feed them!” he screamed. “Don’t feeeeeeeeeeeeeed them!”

June 30- Zachary and I were scheduled to be groomsmen in a wedding on July 1 in Los Angeles, so we drove up to San Francisco separately from the rest of the Blood Arm, so that we could drive the six hours back to Los Angeles immediately after the show, and satisfy our duties in the wedding procession. (Use of run-ons in this ‘blog are intentional; we run-on and on and on and on…) We embarked on our journey a few hours earlier than the rest of the band in order to put as much time between the two 400 mile drives as possible, and to partake in as much of the fine taqueria cuisine of San Francisco as possible. Outside of Mexico, the best burrito I’ve ever eaten has been in the SF bay area.

Quoth Zach, thirty miles before reaching the city: “I really want a fucking burrito!”
Quoth I: “I really want to fuck a burrito!”
Quoth Zach: “I really want to fuck a burrito!”

I, of course, had misheard Zachary’s first statement and repeated it incorrectly. Zachary had heard my response quite well, and repeated it verbatim. At first it was just a fun thing to say over and over to pass the time. But the more we said it, the more I believed it. A burrito is the world’s most perfect food. All four food groups rolled up into one efficient delivery service. A food tube, to put it bluntly. And it’s delicious! Mexican rice, refried beans, lettuce and tomato, salsa, cheese, sour cream, tortillas… I love it! I love burritos! And right then, I wanted one more than anything. I desperately wanted to make love to a burrito.

If you think about it, not only is a burrito perfectly constructed for eating, but for making love to as well. Round, soft, warm, densely packed, gooey, yummy, sexy, sexy! By the time we arrived at Taqueria El Cancun—home of the best veggie burrito in the Bay—not only were we incredibly hungry, but incredibly horny as well. Perhaps it was the hunger that prevented us from satisfying the latter desire in the restaurant, because when the food arrived at our table, we stuffed our faces as fast as we could. It was a practical matter, really, who wants to eat a burrito after they’ve had sex with it? And if I went through with so carnal a culinary experience, would I ever be able to look my wife and children in the eyes again? It’s probably a good thing our hunger got the better of us.

Oh yeah, the show at the Utah Saloon went well also. It was nice to see a lot of old friends. Then the drummer and I drove back to LA, kept alive and awake mainly by the insane ramblings of right-wing AM talk show hosts and Christian radio programming.

July 1- Oh, weddings. Blessed events, they are. On this day Zachary and I gave away our old buddy Tim Allen (not the television star) in the Holiest of Matrimonial ceremonies. Blessed, blessed.

And open bars, blessed they are as well. It seems no matter how many open bars I come across as a member of the TBA posse, I will always worship each as if it will be the last time I’ll ever get a free drink. This compulsion, when combined with rental tuxedos, family, and family friends can make for an awkward situation, but fortunately I drank enough to forget everything that happened. I vaguely recall Zachary trying to eat a cupcake with its wrapper still intact…

July 2- Oh, the morning after. My wife was kind enough to drag Zach and myself from wherever we had passed out to the airport at four in the morning, Zach still in his rental tuxedo, minus any other clothes to wear. Then we were in Portland, reunited with the rest of our mates, having missed three consecutive nights of sleep.

Allyson, our lovely Tour Manager for this jaunt up the coast, was kind enough to take the whole of us to the top of an inactive volcano that looked out over the city. It’s funny, or maybe sad, but living in Los Angeles, one gets used to seeing the air hovering above the city. So it’s a bit shocking—to this So Cal native, at least—that the air in Portland is actually invisible. No wonder there are so many meth labs up there, it’s too difficult for the Portlandians to pollute their bodies naturally.

The show at Dante’s began a two-night trend of Nathaniel getting kicked out of places. Mid-song, he leapt behind the bar, snatched a bottle of vodka, then proceeded to top-off the drinks of everyone lucky enough to be seated nearby. Most venues get a chuckle out of the singer’s showman/bartender routine, but the people of Dante’s wanted nothing to do with it. As soon as the set was over, Nathaniel was asked to leave.

In protest of the frontman’s ejection, Zebastian, Zachary, myself, the Maximo boys, and their tour manager, Dana, heisted a bottle of Stoli from the bar, sat in a circle, and passed it around until its contents were gone. Somewhere around the bottle’s second rotation, our vengeance against Dante’s became known as the Circle of Pain. Somewhere around the fifth rotation, the ceremony ceased to be a Circle of Pain, and blossomed into a Circle of Secrets Revealed. Tom, the drummer of MP, used to have long hair and kept the beat for a metal band that had a song called “Hate.” Paul, their singer, loves the taste of dry paste. Zebastian is afraid of owls. Tiku is a Medical Doctor. Tiku is a Medical Doctor. (That one bears repeating.) We all went to sleep with warm hearts, feeling a little closer to one another, a little more at home. I love Portland.

July 3- Next on our list of west coast cities was Seattle, home of the Space Needle, Starbucks, and Grunge. The show was brilliant, as are the people of Seattle. Then we went a little crazy.

When the girls of a group are considerably outnumbered, and the boys have been permitted to go without bathing and allowed to drink an excessive amount of alcohol for an extended period of time, the testosterone overflows and everyone, girls included, becomes drunk with an uncharacteristic machismo if properly excited. Our excitement came in the form of a complete stranger groping the backsides of Allyson and Dyan in rapid succession. Nathaniel slapped the man’s hand away, and Dyan kicked him in the pants, hard. Had the bouncer not quickly came and tossed the pervert out, he probably would have wound up with some permanent damage. We were off to the macho races.

First Nathaniel challenged Paul to an arm-wrestling match, in a singer vs. singer duel. Nathaniel won. Then it was Zach vs. Tom, drummer vs. drummer. Zach won. Then Dyan beat Dana, I took down Lucas, Allyson trumped Dana, and Nathaniel championed Tiku. We thought we were all that, 6-0, the new Kings of England. Then Zeb challenged Duncan (MP’s guitarist), and Duncan’s shirt tore his bicep swelled so large. I’m surprised he didn’t break Zeb’s wrist. Then Duncan took Nathaniel down. Then the rest of us Yanks. The Brits started to celebrate, but fortunately Nathaniel broke a glass and everyone was thrown out before they could lord it over us too much.

Say what you will about Nathaniel, but he’s got a remarkable homing device in him. After we were tossed from two more bars and Maximo Park’s hotel, the thoroughly inebriated boy ran away from Zachary, Zebastian, and myself as we were walking back to our Travelodge. We searched for him for about twenty minutes, shouting “Nathaniel!” from the highest treetops, but he was nowhere to be found. Though he probably couldn’t have spelled his own name at that point, he was somehow sitting on the steps of our hotel when we arrived there. This has happened in Birmingham and Leeds as well. We’ve set him free numerous times, and he always comes back. He must really love us.

-Ben Lee


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm infatuated with Nathaniel, but I'm growing tired of longing for him. oh the sadness.

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so there you are, ben! i was beginning to think that they fired you...

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how soon is now? you master of words... king of blog? I need it to breathe the stale air of life... give it to us!

9:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please bring me some thai tea flavored from Joe's Ice Cream on Geary.

Thank you.

12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

love a-dub-dub... scooby-dooby- doo... ben lee sloog-a-dog-we...

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ben! Nice to see to you have come back safe and sound from the tour! Say hi to your lovely wife!
Dania and Mike (U.K.)
Hopefully we will see each other soon!

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard that the show at CalState Fullerton was cancelled, say it ain't so.

3:04 PM  
Anonymous wildchild said...

yea, i was really looking foward to the cal state show too.
hopefully they play another show soon.

5:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy birthday Dyan!

6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, where's your website?

9:46 AM  

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